Dealing With an Insurance Adjuster After An Accident: What You Need to Know
Even if it’s your own insurance company, understand that their main goal is to reduce the amount they pay out in claims. They may seem like they’re trying to help, but be aware that they are big businesses trying to protect their bottom line.
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Don’t Give a Recorded Statement
Insurance companies may try to get to you quickly after your accident before you have a chance to talk to a personal injury lawyer. They may try to get you to make a formal statement about the accident. Of course, they need to know what happened in order to process a claim, but they will pick apart anything you say and look for ways to reduce or deny your claim.
The time after an accident is traumatic. You could be still recovering, and your recollection of the accident could be fuzzy. You don’t want to formalize any statements that might not even be accurate and could end up hurting your chances of getting the compensation that you’re due. Take time to consult with your attorney before you talk to the insurance company. Better yet, let your lawyer handle all the communications with insurers.
Don’t Admit Fault
It can be tempting to say you’re sorry after an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault. What seems like a simple expression of care and concern can be used to withhold the money that the insurance company should pay to you.
Be careful not to say anything to anyone after an accident that could be interpreted as accepting responsibility for the accident. The insurance company will use it to reduce the value of your claim. The shared fault laws in Texas prohibit you from recovering anything if you’re found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident.
Don’t Release Your Medical Records
Your medical records contain private information. Insurance companies need a release from you to access your medical records. While the insurance company may need to review your medical records to assess your claim, they will often try to get information that’s unrelated to the accident. Be sure to let your lawyer help by reviewing any requests to release your medical records.
Insurance companies often look for things like pre-existing conditions to try to say your injuries weren’t caused by the accident. Or, they may try to say that certain treatments or procedures weren’t medically necessary. Personal injury lawyers deal with these situations all the time and can help make sure your claims are protected. They’ll make sure the release is specific to only what the insurance company needs to evaluate your claim.
Don’t Accept a Quick Settlement
When you’re stuck with medical bills and lost wages after an accident, it can seem like almost any amount of money can help. It can be tempting to get an offer from an insurance company that might help ease your immediate financial burden. But, insurance companies almost always give you an offer that’s less than what your case is worth. They’ll especially try this if you don’t have legal representation.
The other important reason not to accept a settlement offer too quickly is that you may not even know the extent of your injuries yet. It can take time to diagnose and get a clear picture of the long-term consequences of many injuries – especially those sustained in catastrophic events like truck accidents or construction accidents.
Resist the urge to take the first offer you get. Talk to a lawyer and see what they think about it. They’ll give you their honest opinion of whether it looks reasonable and fair, or whether your case may be worth more.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
You should always seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. This is for your own well-being and safety, of course, but it can also affect your insurance claim. If you wait too long to see a doctor after your accident, it becomes harder to prove your claim for damages. There’s a possibility that other health issues or injuries may arise, muddying the waters about what injuries were caused by your accident. And, the insurance company could try to argue that you weren’t really that hurt if you didn’t seek medical treatment right away. Another excuse they’ll try to use to lower or deny your claim.
Contact a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a reputable personal injury attorney after an accident – or at least sitting down for a free consultation – can be one of the best things you can do to protect your rights. When an insurance company knows you don’t have an attorney, they may try to convince you to take a settlement offer that’s less than what you deserve. They’ll try to take advantage of you in a vulnerable state when they think you need money fast after an accident. And, they’ll assume you don’t know your rights or what your case is worth. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means in addition to a free case evaluation, you won’t owe them anything upfront even if you decide to hire them.